Day 68
PCT Mile Marker 1848.70 – 1869.60 + 2

Miles Hiked 22.9

I didn’t come out of my tent until I’d eaten breakfast, packed my sleeping bag, and put everything away. I didn’t want any skeeters to ruin my morning.

It Was My Birthday!

Turtle handed me a gigantic chocolate bar. “Happy Birthday,” he said.

It was still really early when we hit the trail, and I watched as the sun changed the sky from black to blue. The blue, rich and deep and velvet.

I looked out over glimmery lakes and the earth expanded and breathed. Big and beautiful. Trees aplenty as far as the eye could see.

Mt. Thielsen showed up with the sun, trying to poke a hole in the sky. Jagged and rugged and stunning, with swirly sharp rocks, and fields of boulders that fell off of it a long time ago.  

It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.

I wore my long-sleeved fleece hoodie for a long time while I hiked. It was cold. But that delicious kind of cold that just makes the world exciting. Puts a little pep in your step without removing digits from your hands.

I stopped at the most beautiful break stop in the world. Thielsen Creek. It made its way through some meadowy places and gurgled and bubbled down some steeper spots. It was clean and clear and cold.  

Turtle took my birthday picture for me, and then humored me by taking about six different shots until I had a good Facebook profile photo that I could use later. I ate cashews and drank clear mountain water, and giggled at how perfect my day was.

The trail went over Oregon’s highest point on the PCT, and then it was peanut butter time. We pulled up a piece of shady ground and spread out lunch stuff.

“The great thing about the PCT is that you get to have a picnic every single day,” Turtle said.

“Yep,” I said through my peanut butter. “Remind me to put salami in my macaroni and cheese tonight. That’s what I want for my birthday dinner.”  

My foot was hurting, so we were taking a little break when two men with four horses caught up to us. Dwayne and Richard are doing sections of the PCT on their horses each summer. They talked about how difficult it can be to do the trail with horses. Often, they have to cut logs out of the way that we can just climb over. Logistics can be difficult.  

I admired them for being out here and going for it! Living the dream.  

They let me take some photos with their horses. Well, correction, Turtle took more photos of me with their horses.

My favorite was named Jewel. She had an orange pack. So since that’s my favorite color, she was by default my favorite horse.

Water was difficult on this section, so we had to go off trail for a mile just to get to a water source. Then we had to carry enough water for the rest of the day and into tomorrow before we’d find water again.  

We hiked down to Lake Maidu. It was beautiful and blue-green and full of fat little tadpoles. They were piled on top of each other, so many that the ground looked black. I tossed a little pinecone and took video of the scurrying all over the place.

So, so cute!

I took off my shoes and tried to stand in the water. I thought it would help my feet, but the bottom was gloppy, slippery mud and I almost fell flat on my butt instead.  

The horses came down to the water, and so did some other hikers, so it was quite the afternoon gathering. We stayed for some time. Turtle walked out over his knees and waited there for mud to settle, then got six liters of water for me and a bunch for himself. I thanked him and connected my in-line water filter, grateful again that I didn’t have to sit and filter all of it.

I tried to get out of the water, but when I picked up my left foot, the mud sucked on it and I gasped with the pain. Man, maybe I’d twisted it harder than I’d thought yesterday.  

I went back to my stuff and cleaned up my feet, poked a hot needle through my toenail on my right foot again to drain it out, and did my best to bandage everything up.

Later in the day, we found ourselves back on an incline with nowhere to pitch a tent. My foot was starting to really bother me, but the only option was to keep going. We came across Dwayne and Richard again, and true to their word, they were hacking away at a gigantic tree in the trail with axes. One horse had tried to go over it and had slipped and almost fell off the side of the super-steep slope when the path gave way under her feet. She had some cuts on her leg. They said they didn’t think they’d get any further by nightfall.  

Richard helped me maneuver around the horses on this tiny slip of trail.

Turtle and I kept climbing over more and more downed trees, imagining how they’d get the horses over or through that mess tomorrow. I was so tired. And my foot made me want to cry, but it was my birthday, so I was determined not to.

Some other hikers were already camped in our spot, but there was plenty of room for our tents too. One lady offered to have a sing-a-long for my birthday.  

Which Sounded Awesome.

But by the time I made my macaroni and cheese and Turtle reminded me to add my salami, and I ate a lot of birthday chocolate, it was getting too late. It was, like, 7:30. Turtle made some hot water and gave me a packet of hot chocolate. I laughed thinking about a recent conversation with my Mom…

Mom: “If you’re having a bad day on trail, you just need a nice cup of hot chocolate.”

Me: “I don’t have any hot chocolate.”

Mom: “If you’re having a bad day on trail, you just need to make a nice cup of hot tea.”

Me: “Mom, I don’t have any tea.”

Mom: “Okay, then have a cup of hot water.”

Me: “Mom, I don’t have a cup!”

I smiled to myself as I stirred my hot water and hot chocolate packet together in my pan and took a sip.

I gingerly took off my shoe and sock on my left foot and took a good look at it. Swollen, but I was sure it would be fine in the morning. I took some more Advil, put on my sleeping clothes, and snuggled into the chilly evening.  

It was such a beautiful day.

A Birthday Made To Order.

Categories: Life


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